9 Summer things to buy at the dollar store
Decorating for the changing seasons is fun, but spending a lot of money on stuff that you're going to use for just a few months is not. That's why local dollar stores are so great for those summer items that just aren't worth a major investment, like these:
1. Pool toys
In much of the U.S., swimming season is short and sweet, and no one wants to invest in expensive pool loungers or toys. Kids beat the heck out of that stuff, competing to see who can hold a noodle under water the longest or who can land on that inflatable from a running start off the pool deck. Keep your swimmers entertained with super-cheap floaties, goggles, diving sticks and rafts, just a few dollars each, that they can use hard and trash at season's end. Bonus: Winter storage space not required!
2. Independence Day celebrating
The 4th of July is the highlight of summer, and the dollar stores know it. That's why they're chock-full of patriotic banners, flags, pinwheels and red, white and blue decor. For very little money, you can find everything from folding chairs for the parade to sparklers for after the sun goes down.
3. Beach bargains
Traveling to the shore can be a pricey venture, so spend your money where it makes sense. Felicity Metzler relies on her area dollar stores to prepare for these trips. "I get beach toys (buckets, rakes, shovels, shape pans), extra beach towels, sunscreen, flip flops and a cheap tote at the dollar store," says Metzler. "Grab some antibacterial wipes and cheap snacks, and you're ready for a day at the beach!"
4. Entertaining supplies
Whether you're hosting a giant graduation party or a gathering for a small backyard barbecue, don't spend more than you have to. Your guests don't need fancy dinnerware for their baked beans and potato salad.
The dollar store is overflowing with foam plates, paper napkins, plastic utensils and red Solo cups. Designer Tori Toth of Stylish Stagers, Inc. saves her clients' money with inexpensive and colorful table covers, plastic serving trays and battery-operated paper lanterns from the dollar store. Bonus: Cleaning up is a breeze!
Image: Getty Images
5. Gardening aids
Toth is a big fan of the dollar store for gardening supplies. "I love to pick up gardening gloves from there because I'm always losing or destroying the expensive ones," she says. "And I love the terra cotta pots, wire baskets and molded coconut liners — a lot cheaper than purchasing them at a garden center." You can also find seeds, watering cans, plant food and adorable garden decor.
6. Greeting cards and wrapping paper
Kendal Perez, savings expert with CouponSherpa.com, likes the dollar store for greeting cards and wrapping paper for graduation parties, Father's Day, weddings, baby showers and other summer events. "Cards can often be fetched for just 50 cents versus $4 to $8 for cards from the grocery store," says Perez, "And gift bags and wrapping paper are just a buck each."
7. Movie snacks
Summer is movie blockbuster season. Technically, you're not supposed to smuggle snacks into the movie theater, but when a box of Junior Mints costs $4 at the concession counter, it hurts! "Buy a bigger box from the dollar store plus all the Sour Patch Kids and Hot Tamales you can stand for just a buck each," says Perez. "Plus, you can find coupons for extra savings from Coupon Sherpa — like $1 off any two Snickers Xtreme treats from Dollar General."
8. Summer groceries
You're not going to find meat and produce at the dollar store, but you can load up on condiments, ice pops, chips, soda, lemonade mix, canned beans, boxed pasta and all the fixings for your next cookout.
9. Camping supplies
Campers may pretend that they're out there "roughing it," but most want to bring along at least a few modern conveniences. Check out the dollar store for coolers, ice packs, charcoal, foil, skewers, matches, bug spray and citronella candles. (And don't forget the toilet paper.)